Investigators in Indian-administered Kashmir have identified a fringe group they claim is responsible for bringing Islamic State flags into the funerals of suspected militants and anti-India demonstrations, a police leader said Tuesday.
The unnamed group is striving to establish an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir and is led by Zakir Rashid Bhat, alias Zakir Musa, a former leader of Kashmir’s oldest separatist faction, Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Inspector General of Police Munir Khan told BenarNews.
In July, Musa, 24, was named the head of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a recently established wing of al-Qaeda in Indian Kashmir. However, Khan did not confirm whether Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind was behind the recent trend of draping bodies of slain militants in IS flags – a break from the decades-old tradition of wrapping them in Pakistani flags.
“It is the handwork of a fringe militant group and is aimed at creating a false sensation about the presence of IS in Kashmir,” Khan said.
“We have arrested more than 20 supporters of Musa who were involved in raising IS flags and making pro-al-Qaeda slogans in Srinagar recently. During interrogation they revealed they were over ground workers for this unnamed outfit,” Khan said, while insisting there was no presence of the Middle East-based terror outfit in Indian Kashmir.
Black IS flags were laid on the bodies of at least three suspected militants – HM’s Sajad Gilkar and Yawar Ahmad, and Jaish-e-Muhammad’s Mukhtar Ahmad Lone – gunned down by security forces over the past few weeks, police said.
Musa quit HM in May after he publicly threatened to kill separatists opposed to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has grappled with a separatist insurgency on its Indian side that has killed 70,000 since the late 1980s.
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